JUNE 7, 2018 — The U.S. national association for towboat, tug, and barge owners and operators, American Waterways Operators (AWO), has approved Decatur Marine Audit & Survey as a third-party organization (TPO) authorized to conduct audits of its member operations as part of its Responsible Carrier Program (RCP). The RCP, a safety management system for tugboat, towboat and barge companies, requires AWO member companies to undergo periodic management and vessel audits conducted by an independent third party.
July 20, 2017 last year was a major regulatory milestone for Subchapter M implementation. Towing vessels with keels laid or major conversions on or after July 20, 2017 are required to meet 46 CFR Subchapter M and obtain a Certificate of Inspection (COI) prior to operating.
Photo at right, the Decatur Marine team
Furthermore, starting July 20, 2018, a portion of existing towing vessels will have one year to meet all of Subchapter M and obtain COIs. As discussed in Subchapter M, owners or managing operators of more than one existing towing vessel required to have a COI must ensure that each existing towing vessel under their ownership or control is issued a valid COI according to the following schedule:
- As of July 22, 2019, at least 25 percent of the towing vessels must have valid COIs on board;
- As of July 20, 2020, at least 50 percent of the towing vessels must have valid COIs on board;
- As of July 19, 2021, at least 75 percent of the towing vessels must have valid COIs on board; and
- As of July 19, 2022, 100 percent of the towing vessels must have valid COIs on board.
Owners or managing operators of only one existing towing vessel required to have a COI must ensure the vessel has a valid COI by July 20, 2020.
Tug and towboat operators serving the inland waterways, coasts and harbors are looking closely at their fleets to determine how they will meet the new U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter M regulations establishing vessel safety and inspection requirements. Under Subchapter M, vessel owners and operators can choose to either undergo annual Coast Guard inspections or adopt a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS). AWO’s RCP has been accepted by the Coast Guard as an existing safety management system that meets Subchapter M requirements.
“Decatur Marine, along with our parent and affiliate companies, has already performed more than 31,000 audits and inspections,” says Christian Mollitor, Managing Director of Decatur Marine. “AWO members need top-level auditing, surveying, and compliance services from reputable third-party providers. At a time when towing vessel owners and operators are facing key TSMS and Subchapter M deadlines, our AWO partnership provides further recognition that Decatur Marine is positioned to move into a leadership role in the tug and towboat safety management industry.”
“We are pleased to add Decatur Marine to the pool of well-qualified, well-trained third-party auditors who can conduct RCP/TSMS audits,” says AWO President & CEO Tom Allegretti. “The facilitation of member compliance with Subchapter M, and the elevation of safety and environmental stewardship standards across the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, are among AWO’s highest priorities. The approval of Decatur Marine to conduct third-party RCP audits will help ensure achievement of these goals.”
As a U.S. Coast Guard-approved TPO, Decatur Marine provides Subchapter M TSMS audit and survey services for tugboat and towboat owners and operators across the United States, maintaining an extensive network of experienced nautical inspectors from Seattle to Puerto Rico and from Alaska to the Panama Canal.